15 Sep Namesake’s family visits Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester
Last month marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC & Bar, MC; one of only three people to be awarded the Victoria Cross twice, and namesake to one of the four Help for Heroes (H4H) Recovery Centres.
This week two granddaughters of Christopher Chavasse, twin brother of Noel, visited the recovery centre named Chavasse VC House after the British Medical Doctor. Noel was engaged to his cousin, Frances Gladys Ryland Chavasse, but the captain was killed in action before they could be married. His great-nieces, Camilla Kinton and Julia Hatfield, are some of the closest living descendants. They were invited to the recovery centre to mark the anniversary of their great uncle’s passing and see how the centre has developed since they attended its opening over five years ago.
Camilla said: “This is the best possible memorial to Noel Chavasse as he cared about the whole person; not just the physical but the emotional side too. The Help for Heroes Recovery Centre does just that here; it cares for the whole person. It’s nice to be able to keep the name of Noel Chavasse alive and I feel that he very much would have approved of the recovery centre. Our great-uncle cared for “his boys” and it’s possible that if had lived then he might have opened up his own house to let his comrades recover after the war. It was quite unusual for his a man of his time to be concerned for the wellbeing of his soldiers”.
She continued: ”Noel came from a family of those with a great faith and sense of duty; they always wanted to help others. Even when Noel carried out those acts which saw him awarded the Victoria Cross he didn’t feel like he was being brave. It was just the way he was; he just wanted to help his men”.
Camilla and Julia spent time with beneficiaries of Chavasse VC House hearing how Help for Heroes has assisted them on their road to recovery; both physically and mentally. They also heard how Noel was integral to improving the wellbeing of his comrades in the trenches by setting up recreational areas which he stocked with a gramophone and books.
The Olympic athlete and British Army Officer died on August 4, 1917, during the Passchendaele offensive. He was just age 32. Captain Chavasse received serious head injuries during the battle, but refused to be evacuated and continued to venture into no man’s land and tend to the wounded.
Despite being injured Captain Chavasse saved the lives of an estimated 20 seriously wounded men while under heavy gunfire. A few days later, while resting, his trench was hit by a shell. Mortally wounded, the Captain crawled half a mile to seek help for others. He was eventually evacuated but died of his wounds two days later.